§28 [195-196]

§28. First characterization of dialectic in Plato.

a) Διαλέγεσθαι as ἀληθεύειν. Repetition and continuation of
what has been established about λόγος: rejection of λόγος
as the proper place of truth.1 Λόγος, as the most immediate
mode of ἀληθεύειν and as concealing prattle. The basic
meaning of "dialectic": breaking through the prattle,
tendency toward seeing (νοεῖν).

If we are justified in making an explication of ἀληθεύειν our preparation for understanding the dialogue, and if this is indeed a genuine preparation, then it must be able to elucidate the mode of consideration employed in the dialogue, namely διαλέγεσθαι. What we have determined about ἀληθεύειν must be able to clarify the proper sense of διαλέγεσθαι, the specific comportment of inter-locution that constitutes the dia-logue. And the elucidation of the meaning of διαλέγεσθαι will, at the same time, allow us to understand why in general the dialogue considers that which it does consider precisely by taking the form of a dialogue, and why Plato philosophizes in dialogues. The reason is not the trivial one that Plato was an artist and wanted to present even such matters, whatever they might be called, in a beautiful way. The reason is, rather, an inner need of philosophizing itself, the radical acceptance on Plato's part of the impetus he received from Socrates: to pass from λόγος as prattle, from what is said idly and hastily about all things, through genuine speaking, to a λόγος which, as λόγος ἀληθής, actually says something about that of which it speaks. Διαλέγεσθαι is a passing "through speech," departing from what is idly said, with the goal of arriving at a genuine assertion, a λόγος, about beings themselves. In this sense, διαλέγεσθαι—as it is later called in Plato's Sophist—is διαπορεύεσθαι διὰ τῶν λόγων (cf. 253b10), a running through what is said, precisely so as to show what could be discerned there regarding Being. Accordingly, διαλέγεσθαι, as is the case with λόγος, has the function of disclosing and specifically of disclosing in the mode of discussion. This "speaking-through" begins with what people first say about the matter, passes through this, and is directed to and finds its end in a speaking which genuinely expresses something about the theme, i.e., in a genuine assertion, genuine λόγος.

If we say that λόγος, here as διαλέγεσθαι, is disclosive, and is taken in any case in this facticity, then that means that an ἀληθεύειν belongs to λόγος. Upon closer inspection, we can see that λόγος itself, simply as λόγος, does not constitute without further ado a carrying out of ἀληθεύειν and that consequently the uncovering within λόγος is not indigenous to it as λόγος.

1. Cf. §26 b) β), p. 125.